There’s been an urgent change to the arrears process over the weekend to dovetail with the government’s new Breathing Space initiative.
From today agents, landlords and their solicitors must include details of the Breathing Space scheme within documentation when seeking to gain possession, or risk the eviction being rejected.
The initiative - formally called the Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 - pauses enforcement action from creditors including letting agents.For the person who secures a Breathing Space, it freezes charges, fees and certain interest on qualifying debts for up to 60 days.
- Agents and landlords must put on hold any action being taken in relation to rent arrears (including court action) for as long as the Breathing Space lasts;
- A Section 8 notice cannot be issued for rent arrears (grounds 8,10 & 11) but can on any other available grounds.
Any Section 8 notices issued and served on a tenant from today must include details of the Breathing Space scheme and ARLA Propertymark says agents who sent out notices late last week should be aware they may not be deemed served until today. In that case they will be invalid without the new information. In this case, notices should be re-served as soon as the new form Section 8 notice is available.
Creditors such as agents and landlords will now be notified by The Insolvency Service when a debt has entered a moratorium. Creditors will need to prepare to receive notifications from the Insolvency Service and process them in order to implement the protections.
Propertymark policy adviser Mark Hayward said over the weekend: “The changes introduced are to allow those struggling financially to have a limited time in which to seek advice and formulate a plan to move forward. The scheme will have a large impact on the current processes followed by agents and landlords when taking action against rent arrears, and it is now hugely important that those dealing with rent debt are aware of the new scheme and the changes in working it will bring.”
The government has issued its formal information on the change here.